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AN APPEAL TO HONOUR
HOPE the time is come at last when the voice of moderate principles may be heard. Hitherto the noise has been so great, and the
prejudices and passions of men so strong, that it had been but in vain to offer at any argument, or for any man to talk of giving a reason for his actions; and this alone has been the cause why, when other men, who, I think, have less to say in their own defence, are appealing to the public, and struggling to defend themselves, I alone have been silent under the infinite clamours and reproaches, causeless curses, unusual threatenings, and the most unjust and injurious treatment in the world.
I hear much of people's calling out to punish the guilty, but very few are concerned to clear the innocent. I hope some will be inclined to judge impartially, and have yet reserved so much of the Christian as to believe, and at least to hope, that a rational creature cannot abandon himself so as to act without some reason, and are willing not only to have me defend myself, but to be able to answer for me where they hear me causelessly insulted by others, and, therefore, are willing to have such just arguments put into their mouths as the cause will bear.
As for those who are prepossessed, and according to the modern justice of parties are resolved to be so, let them go; I am not arguing with them, but against them. They act so contrary to justice, to reason, to religion, so contrary to the rules of Christians and of good manners, that they are not to be argued with, but to be exposed, or entirely neglected. I have a receipt against all the uneasiness which it may be supposed to give me, and that is, to contemn slander, and think it not worth the least concern ; neither should I think it worth while to give any answer to it, if it were not on some other accounts of which I shall speak as I go on. young man ask me why I am in such haste to publish this matter at this time, among many other good reasons which I could give, these are some:
1. I think I have long enough been made fabula vulgi, and borne the weight of general slander; and I should be wanting to truth, to my family, and to myself if I did not give a fair and true state of my conduct, for impartial men to judge of, when I am no more in being to answer for myself.
2. By the hints of mortality, and by the infirmities of a life of sorrow and fatigue, I have reason to
think I am not a great way off from, if not very near to, the great ocean of eternity, and the time may not be long ere I embark on the last voy Wherefore, I think I should even accounts with this world before I go, that no actions (slanders) may lie against my heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, to disturb them in the peaceable possession of their father's (character) inheritance.
3. I fear — God grant I have not a second sight in it—that this lucid interval of temper and moderation, which shines, though dimly too, upon us at this time, will be but of short continuance, and that some men, who know not how to use the advantage God has put into their hands with moderation, will push, in spite of the best prince in the world, at such extravagant things, and act with such an intemperate forwardness, as will revive the heats and animosities which wise and good men were in hopes should be allayed by the happy accession of the king to the throne.
It is and ever was my opinion, that moderation is the only virtue by which the peace and tranquillity of this nation can be preserved. Even the king himself — I believe his Majesty will allow me that freedom — can only be happy in the enjoyment of the crown by a moderate administration. If his Majesty should be obliged, contrary to his known disposition, to join with intemperate councils, if it does not lessen his security, I am persuaded it will lessen his satisfaction. It cannot be pleasant or agreeable, and I think it cannot be safe, to any just prince, to rule over a divided people, split into incensed and exasperated parties. Though a skilful mariner may have courage to master a tempest, and goes
fearless through a storm, yet he can never be said to delight in the danger; a fresh, fair gale and a quiet sea is the pleasure of his voyage, and we have a saying worth notice to them that are otherwise minded, Qui amat periculum, periebat in illo.”
To attain at the happy calm, which, as I say, is the safety of Britain, is the question which should now move us all ; and he would merit to be called the nation's physician that could prescribe the specific for it. I think I may be allowed to say, a conquest of parties will never do it; a balance of parties may. Some are for the former; they talk high of punishments, letting blood, revenging the treatment they have met with, and the like. If they, not knowing what spirit they are of, think this the course to be taken, let them try their hands; I shall give them up for lost, and look for their downfall from that time; for the ruin of all such tempers slumbereth not.
It is many years that I have professed myself an enemy to all precipitations in public administrations ; and often I have attempted to show that hot councils have ever been destructive to those who have made use of them. Indeed, they have not always been a disadvantage to the nation, as in King James II.'s reign, when, as I have often said in print, his precipitation was the safety of us all ; and if he bad proceeded temperately and politicly, we had been undone. Felix quem faciunt.
But these things have been spoken when your ferment has been too high for anything to be heard. Whether you will hear it now or no, I know not; and therefore it was that I said, I fear the present cessation of party arms will not hold long. These are some of the reasons why I think this is the proper juncture for me to give some account of myself, and of my past conduct, to the world ; and that I may do this as effectually as I can, being perhaps never more to speak from the press, I shall, as concisely as I can, give an abridgment of my own history during the few unhappy years I have employed myself, or been employed, in public in the world.
Misfortunes in business having unhinged me from matters of trade, it was about the year 1694 when I was invited by some merchants with whom I had corresponded abroad, and some also at home, to settle at Cadiz, in Spain, and that with offers of very good commissions. But Providence, which had other work for me to do, placed a secret aversion in my
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